Your home just suffered damage at the hands of a storm. Whether it is from a tornado, high winds, or another form of weather, you need to be prepared for what comes after the storm passes. It is becoming more and more common for storm-chasing contractors to show up at your front door looking to scam you with the promise of quick work and low costs. Don’t take the bait and end up on the raw side of a bad deal like many homeowners. Before signing anything, you should take some time to educate yourself. Here are some tips to get you started.

Report storm damage to your insurance company. It is important to promptly notify your insurance company of damage that will result in a claim. Keeping them in the loop early can help with processing your claim and getting you back on your feet quickly. 

Get multiple bids. While it might seem convenient to have the contractor come to your door with a sweetheart deal, it isn’t reality. Don’t agree to the offered terms until you’ve obtained a few bids and can compare.

Do your research. Make sure a reputable company will be working on your home. Working with a local contractor can make this easier. A quick and easy search with the Better Business Bureau can give you insight into how the company is run and what others might have to say about their work. Be wary of a contractor saying he is through the government or FEMA.

Get references. Have them prove their quality of work with customer reviews or referrals. A company shouldn’t feel put out by such a request and hesitation on their part could be a sign that their work isn’t high quality.

Ask to see their license. Be sure they are who they say they are. If they are licensed or certified to do the work, they should have no problem proving it.

Make sure they’re insured. A contractor should have insurance to cover themselves and their workers while on your property. Be sure they have coverage to avoid having any work-related injury claims made against your homeowner’s insurance.

Know what your homeowner’s policy says. Make sure you understand what your policy does and does not cover to avoid being talked into repairs that aren’t needed and aren’t covered. Also, reasonable expenses resulting from your efforts to protect your property from further damage may be covered.

Never pay for work upfront. Avoid paying with cash and don’t pay for the whole project all at once. Cash does not leave a paper trail in the event the contractor does not perform the work as promised.

Remember, not all contractors who come to your door are scammers, but you should be cautious. Do your research, get things in writing, and don’t sign a contract until you are comfortable.

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